Self assembling hydrophobic biofilm
We aim to design a biological coating as an alternative to for example chemical coatings. For this we, unconventionally, utilized a Bacillus subtilis biofilm. We wanted to enable our biofilm to be equipped with an interesting property which is automatically initiated. So we introduced an expression trigger which relies on quorum sensing. Our project was directed at finding an alternate solution to biofouling, since regular, chemical coatings which are widely in use pose a threat to the environment. In nature the lotus leaves show self-cleansing properties ascribed to their extreme surface hydrophobicity. In the prokaryotic domain we stumbled upon chaplins, strongly hydrophobic proteins originating from Streptomyces coelicolor. Surface hydrophobicity is a very useful property and is used in many applications ranging from not only antifouling coatings but also other applications which require water repellence to applications in the field of medical sciences. During our project we have contributed to the parts registry whit numerous BioBricks.
We believe that there is a great future for biological coatings as demonstrated within the project. Hydrophobic biological coatings can provide a greener antifouling solution. However using the underlying mechanisms of biofilm triggered expression for other systems like dynamic painting, sensing of environmental changes or even the integration with silicon chips might be within the realm of possibilities. So we challenge coming iGEM teams to further explore and brainstorm about the possibilities of using biofilms as a host for a wide range of applications.